About

Techniques in Home Winemaking is a resource for home winemakers looking for information or help on making great wines, and to share that knowledge with fellow winemakers. This resource is based and builds on my book by the same title. Much of my experience is derived from extensive literature search as well as from my experience both as a home and a commercial winemaker. Click here if interested in ordering a signed copy of my book.

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  1. Mike M

    Hi Daniel,
    I want to say thank you for your book and all the help you have given me in wine making from my grapes grown in greenhouse here in Anchorage Alaska. I never made any wine before so your instructions were a big help. My Chard., Riesling and Pinot Gris turned out very well and its as good as any bottle in the store for $15.00.
    My kit wines which are now 120 days old taste very good also and they were made like the wines from grapes. I have not added any Sorbate from the kit as the wines were fermented to zero Brix, however , they do not taste dry like my other Cardonnnay wines; they have a hint of sweetness. Should I add sorbate?
    Thanks again, Mike

    Reply
    1. Daniel Pambianchi

      Hi Mike,

      Always happy to help a winemaker-in-need 😉

      I’m happy your wines turned out great. That’s the best reward for a winemaker, making something yourself and that you truly love and enjoy.

      If the kit came with sorbate, add it, and definitely do if you taste some sweetness. It won’t hurt but at least your mind will be at ease. Give the wine some time, they all do, to develop its rich aromas and flavors.

      Cheers,
      Daniel

      Reply
  2. Mike M

    Hi Daniel,
    My chard. kit wine has a ph of 3.3 and the kit instructions says to use the 4 gram packet of sulfite from the kit. According to my calculations, I would only need about 35ppm of SO2 and 1.4grams of SO2 for 5.5 gallons of wine. Why so much sulfite? Won’t that effect the taste? Thanks Mike

    Reply
    1. Daniel Pambianchi

      Hi Mike,
      You would typically need to add more sulfite to maintain your desired level (based on pH). Here, you are instructed to do a single addition, one single, large addition vs many smaller ones. The former, the kit strategy, is actually better …. I like it. It actually reduces your total SO2. I always add more than needed just for that reason. Infrequent large additions are more effective than frequent small additions.
      Daniel

      Reply
  3. Mike M

    Good morning Daniel ,
    thanks for the answers on SO2 additions. Is it ok to add 2 to 3 times more SO2 based up ph and FSO2 in the wine when I test it?
    Also after adding Sorbate, do I need to rack the wine again in a few days?
    Thanks Mike

    Reply
    1. Daniel Pambianchi

      Hi Mike,

      You have to set your desired FSO2, measure how much you have in the wine, and then add the amount (difference between those two numbers) required.

      Your desired FSO2 should be the recommended FSO2 based on ph (you can use the WineMaker Sulfite Calculator at http://winemakermag.com/1301-sulfite-calculator) plus some adjustment based on binding. The latter is mainly for reds; there is very little binding in young, fruity whites. But if you want to minimize SO2 additions, you can add 50-100% more. In 3 months when you check and re-measure your FSO2, you should still be above the recommended FSO2.

      No need to rack after adding sorbate. You should however filter AFTER the addition and before bottling.

      Daniel

      Reply
  4. David

    Hello Daniel,
    Referring to a past comment, where you mentioned using your nitro topping system with a stainless steel topping gun, I was curious of your sanitization process for the topping system itself.

    Do you disconnect the topping gun and the wine line and clean after each use? Or do you let the topping gun stay connected to the system and just clean the gun itself before and after use.

    If I think of it like any tap system, I’d think the wine could remain in the line.

    Thanks,
    David

    Reply
    1. Daniel Pambianchi

      Hi David,

      Sorry for the late reply. There seems to be a problem with notifications reaching me, and so, I was not aware of your message.

      I only top once a month, and since wine remaining in the line and topping gun is exposed to air, I flush the line and re-sanitize before next use.

      Daniel

      Reply
  5. Mike M

    Hi Daniel,
    I will be making white Pinot from my pinot noir grapes this fall and wondering if you have a chapter in your book about making white wine from red grapes. I did read the recent article in the wine maker magazine about white wine from red grapes, however, I would like to read more in preparation for this fall.
    Thanks Mike

    Reply
  6. Daniel Pambianchi

    Hi Mike,

    Sorry for the late reply. There seems to be a problem with notifications reaching me, and so, I was not aware of your message.

    No, I don’t have a specific chapter on making white wine from red grapes. You would simply need to press whole bunches and process the juice as any other white juice. There should be a little grape skin contact as possible, and so, I repeat, PRESS WHOLE BUNCHES and work quickly.

    Good luck.

    Daniel

    Reply
  7. Mike M

    Hi Daniel,
    for long term storage of white and red wine in glass carboys is a solid stopper better or an air lock?
    Thanks Mike

    Reply
  8. David

    Hello Daniel,
    If you don’t mind, I have a question regarding the MLF going on in my Chilean cab. Here is the timeline:
    Day 5 of AF: Inoculated must with MLB
    Day 7: AF complete
    Day 11: Pressed the skins

    I put free-run into a 54L demijohn with the pressed wine into a caboy.

    Day 12: I racked off the gross lees.

    In doing so, the last bit of wine quite a few lees ended up in a 0.5-gallon jug.
    This jug with a lot of lees and sludge is like a CO2 bomb with a lot of action going on (I assume MLF as the wine is dry).

    Meanwhile, with the rest of my wine, I am not getting much “visible” action of MLF, although tastewise I am getting some smoothing sensations (almost buttery) on my palate.

    Question #1 – Would the rest of my wine benefit from a little addition of the wine/less/sludge from the 0.5-gallon MLF mother or am I better off leaving everything alone?

    Question #2 – Generally do you rack off the gross lees a day after pressing when you have already initiated MLF (co-fermentation)?

    Thanks so much Daniel!

    Reply
    1. Daniel Pambianchi

      Hi David,

      Chilean Cab!! That’s great. I’m doing a Chilean Malbec … first time working with Chilean fruit.

      The CO2 is from the MLF but I wouldn’t dismiss the possibility of residual sugar still fermenting. You probably measured Brix/SG with a hydrometer, which does not give very accurate results. Even when you measure dryness, there is still sugar being fermented. That’s why you should give the wine another 2 weeks to ensure that the AF is indeed complete to total dryness.

      I know it hurts home winemakers to toss out even a drop of wine, but you really need to discard that sludge — it’s an H2S (hydrogen sulfide) bomb to use your language. You don’t want to have to deal with H2S in your wine. Why risk it?

      I would have recommended you add malolactic nutrients instead, something like Opti-Malo, to have a better chance of success at 100% MLF. Anyways, just wait it out now. It can take weeks or months. If so, you need absolutely sanitary conditions as your wine is not protected with SO2.

      The problem with concurrent AF and MLF is that if the MLF is not complete and you need to press and then rack the wine off the gross lees, the racking can inhibit the lactic acid bacteria — they are somewhat sensitive to oxygen. I prefer to complete my AF, rack the wine off the gross lees, add malolactic nutrients and 24 hours later inoculate with lactic acid bacteria.

      But yes, you need to rack the wine off the gross lees after a day to avoid H2S problems.

      Sorry, gotta go rack my Chilean Malbec off the gross lees … I pressed yesterday. 🙂

      Cheers,
      Daniel

      Reply
  9. Mike M

    Hi Daniel,
    A friend has a kit wine and he added the small bottle of sweet reserve–230ml with the grape juice concentrate and then added the yeast. Will the sweet reserve interfere with the fermentation of the grape concentrate ? I know the total Brix will be slightly higher, but was wondering if the sweetener had sorbate in it . Thanks Mike

    Reply
    1. Daniel Pambianchi

      Hi Mike,
      I would think that the sweet reserve has some sulfite in it but not sorbate, that sorbate would be packaged separately. It can however cause the fermentation to be sluggish and possibly get stuck given the higher amount of sugar now in the juice; the risk is small given that the yeast is likely EC-1118, but there is a risk nonetheless. The sweet reserve was obviously meant to be added at the very end to sweeten the wine once the fermentation has completed. Fermentation might proceed and may go to completion, in which case he’ll have a dry, high-alcohol wine, or it might stop along the way and end up with residual sugar and sweetness that will not match the intended style of the kit.
      Daniel

      Reply
  10. Mike M

    Thanks Daniel,
    Since fermentation has not started and no bubbles in air lock due to the room temp is 65F, should he add some water to bring the sugar down to 24B? The kit is Chard.
    Thanks Mike

    Reply
  11. Bernard Smith

    I wonder if you might settle an argument about wine making – specifically mead making – yeast and oxygen. A number of fellow home mead makers argue that yeast require oxygen during active fermentation and that aerobic fermentation is far better than anaerobic fermentation in mead making. My understanding is that providing yeast with air during active fermentation can reduce the amount of alcohol the yeast produce and will likely result in more yeast cells budding and so the production of more daughter cells which in turn will require additional nutrient to help build their cell walls and the sterols they will need to metabolyze the sugar. I think their argument is that those daughter cells will always be produced.
    My question: does it make good sense to continually incorporate air (O2) into the must once the yeast have begun to ferment sugars? Does providing the yeast with air help create more esters in the mead or wine that then add additional and desirable complexity? Thanks

    Reply
    1. Daniel Pambianchi

      I’m not knowledgeable about mead making, and I say this because I know there are specific differences with white or red winemaking, for example. But there are some common generalities.

      Yeast does need a minimum amount of oxygen to initiate fermentation and build biomass. Once it begins (we call it fermentation but it is not technically in fermentation mode yet; it is in respiration mode), the high sugar content in juice represses respiration causing the yeast cells to then follow fermentative (anaerobic) pathways; this is called the Crabtree effect. But a small dose, albeit critical, of oxygen is necessary for certain metabolic activities essential for cell growth and survival; this is called the Pasteur effect. There is sufficient oxygen there from the start once the juice is stirred that more oxygen is not necessary. That little oxygen enters the TCA cycle in the yeast’s metabolism to enable production of many other compounds, yes, including esters. It’s not always necessarily good. And too much oxygen can divert the metabolism away from ethanol production.

      In white winemaking, which includes mead making, the primary concern is too much oxygen can cause negative oxidative effects, and so, personally, I do not recommend incorporating more oxygen once fermentation is active. Other winemakers will have different opinions, as have your friends.

      Reply
  12. Luca Ciciarelli

    Hi Daniel,
    I recently switched from using oak chips during primary fermentation to oak powder, but I’m not liking the results. The last few batches I’ve made have sour notes to them. I’ve looked on line for differences between the 2, but they seem to be treated as interchangeable. I’m not convinced, however, that using powder is the same as chips – perhaps the powder is imparting too much tannin, too quickly and may be overpowering the wine characteristics?

    Thanks.
    Luca

    Reply
    1. Daniel Pambianchi

      Hi Luca,

      First off, oak powder will impart flavors/aromas very, very fast given the much larger surface area in contact with the wine, and so, you need to taste very early on and remove the powder as soon as you get the taste you like.

      Oak powder is not always obtained from toasted oak wood, and so, yes, it will impart more bitter and harsher tannins. Oak toasting tames tannins and integrates all the oak compounds in much, much better balance.

      Then, there is the question of quality. Always buy renowned brand names from reliable suppliers, i.e. use only the best. There are generic products that don’t always give good results.

      I only use oak powder during maceration/fermentation when I want to lock in the color (when making wine from grapes), and that’s only for a matter of 3-4 days. For aging, I use barrels or adjuncts (chips, staves, cubes, balls, etc.).

      Good luck,
      Daniel

      Reply
  13. mike mosesian

    Hi Daniel,
    I am considering buying some Fusti S.S. tanks for long term wine storage. Are they ok for long term storage? Thanks Mike

    Reply
    1. Daniel Pambianchi

      Hi Mike,
      Please define long-term storage. And I’m assuming we’re dealing with fixed-capacity tanks as opposed to VCTs.
      They are ok if fully topped up and you monitor and adjust SO2 levels. Make sure your airlock or bung seals are perfectly tight. Ditto for all other seals, e.g., manway doir seal, etc.
      Daniel

      Reply
  14. Mike

    Hi Daniel.
    can you suggest yeast for the following grapes: Chardonnay, pinot gris, riesling and Cab. Sauv., Cab. Franc, and pinot noir for making white wine. Can one type of yeast be used for all the white grapes one for all the red grapes.?
    Thanks Mike

    Reply
  15. Pete Krueger

    Hello Daniel. Hydrogen Sulphite problem in my Leon Millot. I’ve used Reduless before with limited results. I see another product: Kupzit Copper Citrate. What are your thought on both. Can I use one and then the other if the problem is not cured? Which would you recommend that I try first. Thanks Pete Krueger

    Reply
    1. Daniel Pambianchi

      Hello Pete.
      I have never used Reduless to treat a hydrogen sulfide problem but I have heard from many winemakers who rave about its efficacy. I’m surprised it has not fixed your problem. I’ve never used copper citrate either. I’ve used copper sulfate with good results. You need to perform bench trials to determine the optimal dosage to eliminate the stinky H2S smell without overdosing.

      Are you sure you have an H2S problem? What are you smelling? At what point us your wine at?

      Daniel

      Reply
  16. Pete Krueger

    Hello Daniel – I’m pretty sure it’s H2s, the smell is unmistakable. I rehydrated the yeast with go-ferm, fed twice during fermentation with fermaid. I punched the cap and stirred the lees twice daily. I pressed at 2 brix and racked into a closed carboy to finish fermentation. After about 5 days in the carboy the H2S surfaced. Ferm temp was upper 70’s.
    Any ideas what could have caused the H2S? I’m going to give the Kupzit a try. Thanks

    Reply
    1. Daniel Pambianchi

      You seem to have done everything right. What yeast did you use? Maybe there was also a nitrogen deficiency even though you added nutrients, maybe the grapes were very deficient and you unknowingly did not add enough. What temperature did you ferment at?

      Reply
  17. Pete Krueger

    Hello Daniel. Yeast was RC-212 – I’ve had good luck with in the past. Ferm temp upper 70’s to low 80’s until I pressed and racked, then I cooled down to my cellar temp of mid to upper 60’s. I’m thinking you’re correct that the problem was low nutrient, or yan I think they call it, yeast available nutrient. I don’t have the equipment to test for that. Good news, the kupzit has knocked it back probably 90%, I’m following up with a a mild dose of reduless, hopefully a full recovery. Thanks again for your help.

    Reply
    1. Daniel Pambianchi

      Hello Pete,
      Good news! That’s great. Yes, it was likely low YAN, yeast assimilable nitrogen. Everything else was textbook.
      Daniel

      Reply
  18. david student

    Hello Daniel,
    Hope all your winemaking is going well.

    I have a question regarding SO2 additions.
    Let’s assume If I add the proper amount of SO2 to a wine (based on it’s PH) and confirm the FSO2 is at the right level (A-O SO2 Test).

    My question is concerning the rackings. I always sanitize all equipment and perform rackings under a vaccuum pump system so that there is very little air contact, if any.

    Question 1)
    Under these conditions should I be concerned with re-testing FSO2 for further SO2 adjustments at every racking, or is it enough to simply re-evaluate the FSO2 before bottling?

    Question 2)
    If I am racking into an oak barrel, should I be more concerned? Does the required FSO2 level increase? Or, better yet, is it in my best interests to increase the free SO2 leve beyond the necessary value for the time that is spends in the barrel?

    I guess I am trying to avoid doing two things:
    – adding SO2 haphazardly
    – having to test SO2 level at every racking.

    I was hoping that a good SO2 test and adjustment right after MLF along with safe racking procedures throughout the 1-2 years of bulk ageing could keep my wine protected until bottling, where I would re-evaluate the FSO2 level and adjust accordingly.

    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Daniel Pambianchi

      David,

      Excellent questions.

      There are three phenomena to consider.

      #1. There is also some small FSO2 during winemaking operatio regardless of technique and equipment used.

      #2. Oxygen in wine will cause oxygen radicals to react with bisulfire and thus lower FSO2.

      #3. You also have compounds that either consume FSO2 or binds FSO2.

      So I recommend you testing for FSO2 so that you learning and understand the changes. As you get more experience,you won’t need as many tests.

      I also you recommend using the Wiemaker Sulfite calculator to guide your addition. It helps overcompensare for binding so as to minimize future additions. The result will be better management of FSO2 and its binders with a lower TOTAL SO2.

      Reply
  19. mike mosesian

    Hi Daniel, soon I will begin harvesting my red and white grapes. For Cab. Sauv. Cab Franc, and Zinfandel, I plan on using either D254 or RC212 . Which do you think would be best ? For Chard, Riesling, and Sauv. Blanc I was considering D47 and ferment at 55F. I also have Pinot Noir grapes which I will make pinot blanc white wine and read where you suggested using RC212 for red pinot noir. Will RC212 work also for white pinot? Thanks for your help and your yeast chart.
    Mike

    Reply
    1. Daniel Pambianchi

      Hi Mike,

      D254 or RC212 will be good for all three varieties. You can also try D80 and blend with D254-fermented wine. D47 is a good choice for whites. The RC212 will also work for white pinot though you can experiment with D47 with a small batch; I’ve never tried it. Let me know how that works out.

      Good luck.
      Daniel

      Reply
      1. Mike M

        Hi Daniel,
        Thanks for your comments on yeast. I have a bladder press and Enoltalia motorized Destemmer with screw feed and must pump and wondering if I should whole cluster press or use the destemmer for pinot gris, chard. and riesling and then press? Thanks again for your help. Mike

        Reply
        1. Daniel Pambianchi

          Hi Mike,
          You can press whole clusters, no problem. Use rice hulls to ease the pressing. You can also destem first if you want to increase yield but I prefer the former for best quality.
          Daniel

          Reply
  20. David Student

    Hello Daniel,
    Do you have any suggestions for starting a red wine fermentation (25 gallons of must) in a basement that is typically around 60 degrees?
    Once I get all that must in the fermenter, it is going to have to stay put due to it’s weight, and I’d like to do the whole process in my basement.
    I have seen fermentation heating pads, but I am not sure if they would do much for 25 gallons of must that is on the cold side from a coal soak.

    I appreciate your thoughts, thanks!

    Reply
    1. Daniel Pambianchi

      Hi David,

      All you need is a space heater. If you don’t have one, you can buy it inexpensively from Home-Depot. Just project the heat onto the fermenter. Monitor the temperature of the must and wine, and adjust the heater accordingly to maintain a steady not-too-hot fermentation temperature.

      Good luck.

      Daniel

      Reply
  21. BURAK TUNA

    Dear Daniel,

    i read your great book about the home winemaking and would like to measure my wine’s S02 content which is really important.

    by the way, i watched a video on the youtube for the topic and i have two questions ;

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OMYH8sgWps4&t=292s

    1- do you advise this kit as functional to measure for the red wine ?

    2- If yes, the guy on the video says that the H2O2 solution should be 3% vol/vol. but, in your book you wrote that it should be 0.3%. Could you please make a clarification ?

    many thanks

    Reply
    1. Daniel Pambianchi

      Hi Burak,

      Glad to know you are making good use of my book.

      Re. your questions ….

      1. Yes, this is one method you can use. It’s relatively cheap as you only need to buy some very basic, inexpensive labware and equipment and some reagents. The only (small) drawback is that the method relies on color detection for the titration endpoint, and so it can be a bit hard at first until you become more experienced with the method.

      2. You can use 3% H2O2 if that’s all you can get. You can use it straight or dilute it to 0.3%. The 3% H2O2 is sufficient for most titrations where SO2 levels are not excessive. Every book you will read will either describe the method using 0.3% or 3%.

      Good luck.

      Daniel

      Reply
  22. Lance Reed

    Daniel,

    Thanks very much for writing your book! I just pressed 5 gallons of a California based Primitivo that is so far tasting great. Now if I just get it to stay that way. My Buddy was ecstatic as we are using his Grandfathers Press that was brought over from Italy 80+ years ago….

    My question to you is about containers to use for maceration. The tubs you mention in your book look great.
    I am looking to move up to larger volumes (from say 2 crates / ~5 gallon to maybe 3 -5X that). I can find some tubs that are Italian made, however I can’t seem to find the spigots or the nifty sieves. I am interested in doing delestage at some point as well. Any chance you could point me in the direction of an equipment provider that might help.
    I suppose long term I’m going to need a pump if I move up to larger volumes?

    I have Wash State Pinot Noir coming in a few weeks, I’ll be reading your notes on that process again.

    Thanks!

    Lance

    Reply
    1. Daniel Pambianchi

      Hi Lance,

      Fun stuff, eh? And, in fact, the wine will improve, so your buddy will be even more ecstatic, though you will need to be patient and let the wine age gracefully.

      Beer & Wine Hobby used to carry the tubs, spigots and sieves. I see them still listed on their website (https://www.beer-wine.com/winemaking/fermentation-aging/tubs-accessories). Give them a try.

      A pump will be very handy for working with larger volumes, yes. A small positive-displacement diaphragm pump with 1/2-inch tubing will work fine for your expected volume.

      Good luck.
      Daniel

      Reply
      1. Mike Mosesian

        Hi Daniel,
        when making white wine from a kit they use bentonite at the beginning. Do you suggest using it also with pinot gris grape juice from grapes I have grown and pressed? I have added opti white, SO2, Cuvee Blanc and its in a cooler at 55F. Should I rack first and then add FT Blanc soft fermentation tannin and then the yeast and go ferm? Thanks for your suggestions,
        Mike

        Reply
        1. Daniel Pambianchi

          Hi Mike,

          Typically after pressing whites you let the juice settle 24 hours at cold temperature to allow grape particulates settle, then you rack, and then you warm up the juice and inoculate with yeast. The yeast should be rehydrated with Go-Ferm. Your choice whether to add FT Blanc Soft. You would then add Fermaid K (or equivalent) at 1/3rd Brix depletion.

          Process the wine as usual and then stabilize with SO2 at the end of fermentation. Let the wine clear as much as possible on its own, preferably, or go straight to a bentonite treatment followed by cold stabilization, filtration and bottling.

          Good luck.
          Daniel

          Reply
      2. Lance Reed

        Daniel,

        Thanks for the tip on Beer & Wine Hobby. I actually live near them and they are great! They do have the tubs , but they don’t have the sieves that you had mentioned. But I will chat with them about options.

        I do have a question about deciding to do MLF or not. My main motivation for making my own wine is to know exactly what is going into it as my wife gets really bad headaches on some wine and I’m trying to control the process and avoid excess additions. We don’t know exactly what the culprit is. But I know on “cheaper” reed wines this is a problem. However, I’m a fan of various natural fermentation process in other things (pickles , lambics etc), and when we consume “Old Style” Spanish wine, that is usually fermented with indigenous yeasts and left to age a long time (low oak as well), she does not have these issues. I am not using the yeasts on the grapes, as I don’t trust them for various reasons. But I am torn about doing a Malolactic fermentation – as I’ve had too many reds that IMHO get too much diacetyl in that phase. However I also read on your book on p. 231, that “Spontaneous MLF” can produce higher levels of substances that might cause headaches.

        My primitive is 5 days after pressing, and it in in a container that has about 4 inches if head space. I think its done fermenting, with a small amount of gas being given off. I don’t know given the above if I should try to stop MLF (but I don’t want to add lysozyme in case that is a trigger as well), or if I should sulfite and put under N2. My long term plan was to bulk age this in Stainless kegs under N2 and serve that way, or bottle a few for friends.

        Any suggestions on MLF decision? I know that is a long winded question. Hope I am not abusing your blog.

        Thanks in advance for all your help!

        Lance

        Reply
        1. Daniel Pambianchi

          Lance,

          Yes, if you don’t manage your MLF, bacteria can produce biogenic amines that can flaw the wine and possibly cause health issues; biogenic amines (eg. histamines) are by-products of rogue bacterial metabolism that can cause headaches. A well-managed MLF with cultured bacteria should not be a problem, not even excessive diacetyl.

          MLF is about reducing acidity and converting the sharper malic acid into the softer lactic acid, and about adding flavor and aroma complexity.

          If you do not carry out the MLF, know that your wine will be at risk of an MLF in the bottle unless you treat it with lysozyme (as you said) and higher amounts of SO2. Commercial wineries use sterile filtering.

          Personally, I would do an MLF and then sulfite when it’s done. It’ll be a much better wine. You do have to reduce that headspace though.

          Hope this helps.

          Daniel

          Reply
  23. BURAK TUNA

    Hi Daniel,

    my question is regarding the balance of the wine.

    you wrote the formula in your book that if the acid is low, then the tannin has to be high and high alcohol tolerates high tannin or high acidity.

    ok, as home winemakers we may test our wine’s tannin level with our mouthfeel but,
    for high and low acid, what are the pH levels in balancing the wine ?

    (you say that the wine has to be between pH 3.2 – 3.6 but, i think these values are significant in terms of the SO2 protection efficiency ?)

    greetings from turkey.

    Reply
    1. Daniel Pambianchi

      Hi Burak,

      pH is most important from a microbiological stability point-of-view. If a wine with a pH of 4.0 tastes perfect, why mess with its pH. Surely if it is that high, you need to increase SO2 levels to ensure adequate protection as yeasts/bacteria thrive at higher pH.

      I think it is most important to shoot for a pH in the range 3.2-3.6 right in the vineyard, i.e. managing the viticultural aspects. So you harvest grapes at a good pH and then you don’t really have to worry about it in the winery.

      As for balance, there is no magical formula … go by taste.

      Daniel

      Reply
      1. BURAK

        Hi Daniel,

        what you said is really interesting for me.

        in my region, the climate is very hot, always sunny, no rain (like Sicilia). Under these conditions, i harvested my Shiraz at Brix 25 with a pH of 4.2

        so, considering your advise, would it be better that i harvested my grapes at pH 3.6 with an approx Brix of 20 and add table sugar to reach Brix 25 ?

        Reply
        1. Daniel Pambianchi

          Hi Burak,

          The decision to harvest should always, ALWAYS, take into account, in addition to Brix and acidity/pH, phenolic ripeness and how the grapes taste. If you harvest too soon, you might forego late aroma/flavor development and phenolic ripeness. You may need to consider what to do in the vineyard to keep the pH lower. It might be that the soil is too alkaline. You can test that by taking grape samples earlier on and measuring Brix, TA and pH. If you are at 20 Brix and pH 3.6 and then at 25 and 4.2 at harvest, well, maybe it’s just the sharp drop in malic acid in grapes, in which case you may want to harvest earlier in future vintages or simply deal with it in the winery by acidifying the must. 25 Brix is really good.

          Daniel

          Reply
  24. David

    Hello Daniel,
    Today I will be crushing/destemming my california sangiovese and ovz at my grape supplier’s place.

    I wanted to perform a cold soak, and they gave so kindly agreed to let me then store my must in their refrigerator where their grapes are sitting cold, for a few days.

    While the temperature will be perfect, I will not be able to perform the regular punchdowns that described in the cold soak process.

    Being that the reality, should I even bother with the cold soak? Will there still be a benefit even without the punch downs?

    Thanks for your time!

    Reply
    1. Daniel Pambianchi

      Hi David,

      It depends how cold “cold” is.

      Aside from losing out from extracting extra color through the stirring/punchdown actions, the surface of the must is exposed to oxygen in the little headspace above it, and that increases the microbial risk — but the colder, the lesser the risk. Some microbes can resist cold temperatures.

      If it is 8C/46F, it’s not really good; if it’s 0C/32F or colder, you will have better results.

      Daniel

      Reply
  25. BURAK

    Hi Daniel,

    thankyou for the clarification again on how to balance the wine related to soil adoptions. to be honest, It pointed out that i need to learn lot of details how to care with my grapes.

    after I read your book, one point was still confusing for me and then i started to read your website to find the answer.

    It’s the relation of total acidity (g/lt) with pH.

    In your below linked article you give an example reducing the pH of a must with 9.0 g/L TA — pH of 3.90 to pH 3.6 by adding tartaric acid with an amount of 3 g/lt, so the TA reaches to 12 g/L

    [With the method of Clark Smith (i understand it simulates the cold stabilisation ?)] In case the tartaric level is high, i understand that TA is reduced to 8 g/lt. This is OK

    but why are you saying that the pH is still at 3.6 even the TA is reduced from 12 to 8 g/liter.

    Or should i understand the thing like this ; cold stabilisation reduces the TA in g/liter but, doesn’t reduce the pH.

    https://winemakermag.com/1546-mastering-wine-acid-balance

    Reply
    1. Daniel Pambianchi

      Hi,

      Yes, the journey to making superlative wines starts in the vineyards … growing good fruit. This requires expertise and patience, not to mention know-how when Mother Nature doesn’t provide the ideal growing conditions.

      The article should have read a pH of 3.9. This was a hypothetical scenario where we are trying to predict TA and pH changes in a high-TA/high-pH must following freezing/thawing. You would expect the TA to drop but pH likely not to change much. These are very difficult to predict because of the must’s buffering capacity and chemistry.

      Bench trials are always recommended. I also recommend always measuring parameters before and after any kind of processing to confirm expectations; that’s how you learn.

      Good luck
      Daniel

      Reply
      1. BURAK

        Hi again,

        thankyou very much , now the TA / pH relation especially in terms of tartarate very clear to me.

        I’m unfortunately a man who is trying to do the things by learning its backgrounds.

        as the last question, i will be very happy in case you suggest me a book (preferably in the level which was written as understandable for hobbyst) which is explaining how to grow superlative grapes in the vineyard.

        and as a turkish winemaker, i want you try our local grape wines :

        kalecik karasi ; many researchers say that pinot noir may be originated from our kalecik karasi
        https://www.wine-searcher.com/wine-246218-0001-vinkara-mahzen-reserve-kalecik-karasi-turkey

        bogazkere ; means throat burner in turkish. thin skin and agressive tannins. this is blended with our öküzgözü grapes to soften the wine. both of them are the grapes since the ancient time of mesopotomia
        https://www.wine-searcher.com/grape-1197-bogazkere

        Reply
        1. Daniel Post author

          I recommend two books; one is for hobbyists and the other (somewhat older publication but still very good) is on general viticulture and more advanced …

          From Vines to Wines: The Complete Guide to Growing Grapes and Making Your Own Wine by Jeff Cox

          General Viticulture by Winkler et al.

          Reply
  26. Vince

    Hi Daniel. I was re-reading the section of your book that deals with maceration and colour extraction as wine making season is upon us. In my past experience with Cab Sauv from Sonoma and Amador, I was not able to reach the depth of colour and intensity as I would like or expect from that variety. I have tried many of the better commercial Cabs from California and I am amazed at how deep and rich they are but I haven’t yet been able to replicate a similar wine. I generally use pectic enzymes, a four day cold soak followed by 5-7 days fermentation and pressing once alcoholic fermentation is complete. So I was wondering:
    1. Would a longer cold soak of perhaps 7 days help?
    2. Would an extended maceration post fermentation of say 7 days also help?
    3.. Does Colour-Pro help appreciably in the extraction? and finally,
    4. What are your thoughts on using dry ice for keeping the temperature down during cold soak and extended maceration periods.
    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Daniel Post author

      Hi Vince,

      First things first.

      The sad reality is that many of us (it may not be your case) don’t always have access to premium grapes, and wineries typically keep their best fruit for themselves.

      What I have noticed in the past is that fruit (and Cab Sauv particularly as that is the variety that I had often worked) is often harvested for Brix with the grapes not having reached full phenolic ripeness, so color is often missing. Then, the other big issue is high pH. I’m seeing very high pH consistently in the fruit that we receive here. High pH reduces color, and so, you need to acidify to bring the pH down.

      If you have good fruit, there are ways to ensure maximum extraction of color. You should be using macerating/pectic enzymes (something like Scottzyme Color Pro or Color x). You can also do a cold soak for a few days or a week and, definitely, use dry ice if you can’t bring the temperature down otherwise. Post-ferment maceration is more about tannin integration than color extraction. The other very, very important technique is to use tannins (enological tannins or oak powder) to lock in and stabilize the color once you have reached your desired (max) color. All too often I see folks getting great color extraction but then there is color loss during aging … that’s because they failed to use tannins to polymerize with anthocyanins (color molecules) and stabilize color.

      Hope this helps.
      Daniel

      Reply
      1. Vince

        Hi Daniel

        Just to follow up on use of dry ice during pre and post fermentation, is it safe to add dry ice directly to the must? Will it “burn” the skins upon contact? I like the dry ice idea because it will provide a nice blanket of C02 as well as keeping the temperature down. This year I am doing Chardonnay, Syrah and Petite Sirah all from Lodi. Cheers.

        Reply
        1. Daniel Post author

          Vince,

          Yes, it’s absolutely safe to add dry ice to the must. The freezing action actually helps break down skin cell and hasten color extraction. Bonus, no?

          Good luck.
          Daniel

          Reply
          1. Vince

            Hi Daniel,
            So if freezing breaks down cell walls, I may just freeze blocks of must while it is still cold and add the blocks as needed to extend the cold soak by a few days. I can also thaw the frozen must and add to the must near the end of fermentation to extend the fermentation period. Thanks for the idea and Happy Thanksgiving.

          2. Daniel Post author

            Hi Vince.

            Thank you.

            You can actually buy frozen pails of musts. You’ll find that they tend to have a deeper color than a wine made from the same grapes using in a traditional method without freezing.

            Good luck.
            Daniel

          3. Vince

            Hello Daniel
            Just a couple of questions arising from this winemaking season:

            1. When doing a partial malolactic fermentation on Chardonnay, is it ok to allow the ml to progress and then add SO2 to stop it or better to do full ML on a portion of the must and then blend?
            2. I read about using oak powder in your book and I have used it on finished wine . The flavour was good but I found it was difficult to separate from the wine. Would it be a good idea to add oak powder during masceration? Im thinking it would settle out or get trapped in the pressing.
            3. I got some Petite Sirah from Lodi and I measured the brix to be 27. If I add water to bring brix to 25,would that cause an appreciable reduction in body and flavour? I am aiming for a full body rich red.
            Thanks

          4. Daniel Post author

            Hi Vince,

            1. You can do either or; just remember that any wine with an incomplete MLF (i.e there is residual malic acid) is microbiologically unstable and would have to be sterile filtered or treated with lysozyme/SO2.
            2. Yes, oak powder is often added during fermentation (during the maceration phase) to lock in and stabilize color. In racked wine, just place the powder in a sanitized nylon mesh bag and then pull out the bag when done. Super Easy!!
            3. Yes, you can expect a reduction in aromas/flavors, which you may or may not notice tasted on its own. You would definitely notice a difference if you could taste the two wines (one fermented at 27 Brix and the other at 25) side by side.

            Good luck.
            Daniel

      2. David

        Hello Daniel,
        If I may piggyback on this conversation, I have always been somewhat confused as the time to add oak in order to lock in color…whether it is enough to add tannin/oak powder/chips at the start of fermentation rather than at the max color.

        I guess, my confusion is when the max (desired) color would be met… typically near the end of fermentation correct? I personally would want as much color as possible.

        So to wait for the desired max color, I am not putting in the tannin/oak powder/chips until closer towards dryness… am I understanding this correctly?
        What are the disadvantages of added the oak at the start of fermentation? Will this in some way inhibit color extraction?

        Thanks for your help!

        Reply
        1. Daniel Post author

          Hi David,

          Some winemakers will add the tannin/oak powder/chips at crush; I prefer at max color because you get better locking in of the color. This is because at max color there is a much better balance of anthocyanins (color molecules) and tannins — this is key — to enable polymerization reactions. I would have to get into the chemistry of tannin-anthocyanin polymerization and anthocyanin bookending chemistry, but I’ll spare you.

          Anthocyanins are more water-soluble, so most of the extraction occurs during cold soaking and pre-fermentation. Sure, there is still more extraction during fermentation. So you can add tannin/oak powder/chips after the cold soak or later, after a few days, during fermentation. I do the latter.

          Anthocyanins are quite unstable; waiting until the end of fermentation would result in some loss of precious color you just extracted.

          I use tannins. I once did use oak powder during fermentation but once I used powder right at crush and found that it added to much oak character too early on. So if you do it early (in spite of what I said above), you would have to go easy on the amount of powder you add. Then, you may not have enough tannins to lock in color later on. You see the challenges?

          Good luck.
          Daniel

          Reply
          1. Vince

            Hello Daniel. That was in interesting discussion on tannins and oak powder. I was wondering about doses though. I added a small amount of oak powder (20 grams) to 7 lugs of Syrah grapes but have yet to add the tannin. What dose would be appropriate? Thanks.

          2. Daniel Post author

            Hi Vince,

            I use Laffort’s Tanin VR Supra at a rate of 20 g/hL, so that’s 20 g per 100 liters (25 gal) and oak powder at a rate of 2-4 g/L. You have to estimate your grape yield.

            I don’t know the weight of the lugs, but if these are 36-lb lugs, I’d say you might get close to 75-80 L of wine, and so, even at 2 g/L of oak powder, you would have needed 150-160 g of oak powder.

            Daniel

          3. Vince

            Hi Daniel
            I have some packaged tannin which suggests 0.5 grams per litre. If I follow that dosage I would be adding about 25 grams to 7 – 36 lb lugs. Since I’m fermenting Lodi Syrah which has gone through 4 days cold soak and currently fermenting at 80 degrees F, should I be concerned that there would be too much tannin? Thanks

          4. Daniel Post author

            Hi Vince,

            This is likely not the original package, right? I mean, it’s a repackaged product, yes? It should have given you a range for different applications. I would recommend you use half the rate, i.e. 0.25 g/L.

            Daniel

          5. Vince

            Yes Daniel, that’s correct. The tannin was repackaged so I will follow your recommendation and add half the dose. Just to be sure, is this tannin addition is to lock in the colour and not really to change the tannin presence on the palate? Also, if a higher level of tannin is preferred for taste and mouthfeel, can it be added after a couple of rackings with bench trials? Thanks

          6. Daniel Post author

            It will change the mouthfeel for sure, but in a very positive way. The tannins will polymerize along with the anthocyanins (color pigment molecules) and “soften” in the process.

            You can adjust the tannin level and mouthfeel at any time. Perform bench trials, see what you like, and adjust. Be sure to always, always taste before you bottle. It’s your last chance to make adjustments.

          7. Vince

            Daniel
            Does the polymerization of colour molecules by tannin prevent deposits of pigment on the side of the bottle? Two years ago I made 4 different red wines two of which were quite tannic and the other two being lower in tannins. The more tannic ones did not leave a deposit and the two other ones did. Coincidence? Thanks

          8. Daniel Post author

            No coincidence. I provide science-based facts. 🙂

            Remember I said that anthocyanins are unstable? So yeah, that’s what happens. If they have nothing to latch on to, they will precipitate. Actually, they’ll likely stick to the glass. But … as they polymerize with tannins and the chain becomes longer and longer and heavier and heavier, you can expect some precipitation. But the wine becomes oh so smooth. So patience. If it’s too tannic, give it time. You’ll be richly rewarded.

          9. Vince

            Hello Daniel
            My Syrah and Petite Sirah are approaching the end of alcoholic fermentation and over the last 3 or 4 days seems to have plateaued in terms of colour extraction. I still plan to do an extended maceration using dry ice to potent the must for about 7 days. Although the colour may not deepen, will this improve flavour and aromas? Thanks.

          10. Daniel Post author

            Hi Vince,

            There may be more aromas and flavors to extract, maybe, however, the real purpose of the extended maceration is for polyphenol polymerization. That will affect mouthfeel, in a good way.

            Good luck
            Daniel

          11. Vince

            Hello Daniel. My reds are sitting at SG 1.000 and 1.050. I used RC 212 Yeast for the bulk of the fermentation and a few days ago I added EC118 because of its higher alcohol tolerance (I’m expecting about 15 to 16% ABV). I’m concerned that I may have stuck ferment. If the wine doesn’t go below SG 1.000 in a couple of days what would I do to finish the fermentation? The ambient temperature is around 23 degrees C. Thanks

          12. Daniel Post author

            Why had you chosen RC212 knowing you had a high Brix? It can be nearly impossible restarting a stuck ferment at 1.000, even with EC-1118. You can try, but I wouldn’t bet on it. You may have to live with the residual sugar.

            A better method of adding the EC-1118 given the hostile environment (yeasts do need to adapt before they get to work, even EC-1118) would be to start a culture and add a little wine to it with a bit of sugar, wait that it ferments well, then add some more wine (no more sugar), wait that it ferments well, and double the volume and then add to the whole batch. You want the yeast to be strong and ready for when you add it to the high-alcohol wine.

          13. Vince

            Hi Daniel. Happily my Syrah has dropped below SG 1.000 this morning. I should have mentioned that the EC 1118 was added while the must was still fermenting. It was still giving off heat this morning. The Petite Sirah however is still sitting at SG 1.005 but it too is still slightly warm near the surface and bubbling. Hopefully I won’t have to implement your suggestions for stuck ferment, but I really appreciate having that knowledge just in case. Thanks, greatly appreciated.

          14. Daniel Post author

            Excellent! Good news.

            My point about adding yeast to either a stuck or active fermentation was to alert you to the risk of doing that; it may not always work, even with EC-1118. You are adding yeast to a very hostile environment where the yeast has had no chance whatsoever to acclimate. The way to do it is using a protocol similar to what I explained.

          15. Vince

            Hello Daniel,

            I was just wondering about the benefits of sur lees aging. My Lodi Chardonnay finished fermenting about two weeks ago and I plan to rack it in the next day or two. Which lees are used when aging the wine on the lees? Is it the lees after the first racking? I would like to make a Chablis style wine.

            Also, this year I did something I never did before and that is a second run. I pressed the Syrah and Petite Sirah enough to fill my vessels and have enough for topping up. The pressings, from 10 36-pound lugs, were still quite moist, so I decided to experiment with a second run. To the pressings, I added 34 litres of water with enough sugar to bring the brix to 23 and TA to 8 g/l. The must started fermenting almost immediately but only at 70 degrees. I am surprised at how dark the wine is turning out! Not as deep as the first run, but not a bad colour at all. So I am left wondering how could I have had that extra colour (and I am assuming aromas and flavours), imparted into the first run? The total masceration period was 14 days. Clearly the grapes had more to give. Maybe a 21 to 28 day masceration? Thanks.

          16. Daniel Post author

            Hi Vince,

            Sur-lie aging can add extra flavors and aromas and a “fuller mouthfeel” to wine. The result is a much more complex, fuller-bodied wine. But lees have two other very important characteristics. First, they have high reductive power, affording wine high protection against oxidation. And they have great ability to consume dissolved oxygen and further protect wine against oxidation for several months.

            Aging on the lees in conjunction with exogenous β-glucanase enzymes and a proper stirring regimen can also be used to improve mouthfeel by reducing astringency from reduced proanthocyanin (tannin) aggregation in reds. Mannoprotein–proanthocyanin interactions can impact red wine color and stability owing to the reduced proanthocyanin content available to interact with anthocyanins. The extent of these interactions is modulated by various factors, the most important being pH, temperature, and SO2 and ethanol levels, and, most important, yeast cell wall adsorption capacity.

            Sur-lie aging should be done on the fine lees, as you said, after the first racking — not the gross lees, which can otherwise cause H2S problems. I define gross lees as those that settle within 24 hours; the rest are the fine lees.

            As for color extraction, yes, it can be quite shocking how much color is left behind. You will never extract 100%, but you can maximize their extraction by a more aggressive maceration involving a longer cold (and I mean cold, not cool) maceration in conjunction with macerating enzymes and frequent punchdowns or pump-overs. Macerating enzymes are specially formulated for color extraction and include pectin enzymes to breakdown grape cell walls and release more anthocyanins. And during fermentation, you can increase the frequency of punchdowns or pump-overs.

            I’m also assuming that you destemmed your grapes. Wine from destemmed grapes are known to have greater anthocyanin content.

            Yeasts too can impact phenolic extraction, and so, choose a suitable yeast strain for your variety.

            And if you are working with small volumes, you may want to consider freezing your crushed harvest. The freezing and thawing of crushed grapes causes a further breakdown of grape cell walls and therefore a greater release of anthocyanins. I have done a few batches from frozen must (purchased as such) and the color was amazing, and not much more to give after pressing.

            Hope this helps.

            Daniel

          17. Vince

            Daniel,

            Thanks so much for the comprehensive response. As far as sur lees aging goes, what would be an appropriate length of time? You mention several months. Also, how often should the lees be stirred up?

            I will definitely try freezing red must, at least a good portion of it. Now all I have to do is wait till next year. Lol.
            Thanks Daniel, much appreciated.

          18. Daniel Post author

            Hi Vince,

            You should taste the wine as you go, say starting the 3rd week or the 2nd month, and age until you get the desired taste profile. Stir once a day. I know some folks stir twice a day and other once a week. It’s a matter of preference on the style you want to create. This has all to be evaluated against oxygen update when you open the barrel and stir the wine. You don’t want to exceed the wine’s reductive capacity.

            We say that often in this business … there’s always next year. Yep!

            Cheers,
            Daniel

          19. Vince

            Hi Daniel. I racked my Syrah today and I noticed a little bitter taste on the finish. Is this just a young wine being young or is it going to be a characteristic of the Wine? I did add some tannin to the must but much less than what was recommended on the package. Hope I didn’t over do it. I am planning to use light oak chips so I won’t add to the tannin. Thanks.

          20. Daniel Post author

            Hi Vince,

            It’s just a young wine being young. You need to give it time and allow it to age, age gracefully. As it ages, small, bitter tannin molecules will polymerize into larger, more astringent, less bitter molecules. You can’t rush a good thing. This IS Syrah.

            Cheers,
            Daniel

          21. mike m

            Hi Daniel,
            In regards to natural corks, should they be soaked in hot water with 50ppm SO2 solution before inserting into bottles? If so for how long? Thanks Mike

          22. Daniel Post author

            No, never, they don’t need to. Just use them right out of the bag. Buy only as much as you will bottle.

          23. Vince

            Hi Daniel. When we have a lot of corks as when they are bought in bulk, is it good practice to give them a light spray with S02 solution before inserting? Thanks

          24. Daniel Post author

            Hi Vince,

            Mike M asked a similar question in a separate post.

            Corks are shipped in sealed bags containing SO2. They are good to go as is; no need to (and you shouldn’t) soak them or have to spray them with SO2. Take what you need from the bag and quickly reseal it tightly if you need to store the rest. You could also burn a little sulfur stick (a tiny amount) and “catch and trap” the gas in the bag, and then reseal it.

            Daniel

          25. Mike

            Daniel, I finished fermenting my pinot blanc– the color is slightly pink and the ph i 3.11; should I run it thru Malolatic fermentation? thanks Mike

          26. Kathi Jo

            Hi Daniel,
            This is an interesting discussion. So, at what point do you consider wine at “Max color” ? Right after maceration? I used to add tannins late in the process…like the 3rd or 4th racking. This year I added tannins at crush…because that is what Scott Labs recommends. Should I have waited?

            Thanks. You are the best
            Kathi Jo

          27. Daniel Post author

            Hi Kathi Jo,

            I monitor color regularly during maceration and fermentation, every time I do a punchdown, and then gauge how much more I think I can extract. If I see I’m not getting much more on the following punchdown and that I’m happy with the color, then I add the tannins in. Of course you have to know something about the variety you’re working with. You know you will only extract so much color from a Pinot, for example, or that you have a lot more to extract if your Zin is still a touch too light.

            You will get more extraction during fermentation, particularly if you didn’t extract as much as you could have during a cold soak.

            Color pigment molecules are quite unstable. Waiting until the 3rd/4th racking is too late; you would have lost color already — pity.

            You can add the tannins at crush. There are different opinions here on the timing as I have explained in my earlier response to another post.

            Polyphenol chemistry can be a challenge 🙂

            Good luck
            Daniel

  27. Mike Mosesian

    Hi Daniel,
    My white wine made from grapes has finished fermenting at 0 Brix and is in a cooler at 55F. Should I rack it off the lees now or wait a day or 2 so that it is very dry and then sulfite according to the ph? At what time should I use a finning agent ? I plan on storing it in a glass carboy and stirring the minor less once a week for a few months then put it through a cold treatment.. Thanks for your help. Mike

    Reply
  28. Daniel Post author

    Hi Mike,

    Your wine is not finished fermenting until it reaches about -1.5 Brix. There is still sugar to ferment at 0 Brix. The wine is not stable at 0 Brix and can restart fermenting in bottles. So let it complete, then rack and the stabilize with SO2. It may take days or weeks to complete depending on your wine and temperature.

    I like to let the wine rest 2-3 months before I add a fining agent, then I cold stabilize.

    Daniel

    Reply
    1. mike mosesian

      Thanks Daniel,
      While the white wine is in the carboys at 55F for 2 to 3 months how often should I stir up the minor lees before finning and cold stabilization?
      Thanks Mike

      Reply
  29. Daniel Post author

    2-3 months might be long. Stir once daily, very, very gently to minimize oxygen uptake. Taste daily and then see when to rack according to taste.

    Reply
  30. Seth

    Dan-
    Just finished your Techniques Book. Wonderful book, so much good information. My new bible, in hand with Vines to Wine.
    I note that you mentioned briefly the concept of micro-ox, and the possilbity of doing it with OX tanks.
    I had thought I could engineer something similar to what they are doing in the wineries, utilizing an aquarium pump and aerations stone. Then, of course, I discovered someone beat me to it. 🙂
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y2HFE0Cp51k
    I had thought I would use a two hole bung in my 7 gal fermonsters etc. Have to find one that will fit, or will have to make one.
    Here is my issue/problem- No ability to purchase the heavy control equipment.
    I have done a lot of reading and it appears one wants to insert 10-25 ml/l/month over perhaps a 5-10 day period. I have been trying to come up with a way to adjust the output of the pump and measure the volume of air. Any ideas?
    Thanks
    Seth

    Reply
  31. Seth

    Dan-
    Just finished your Techniques Book. Wonderful book, so much good information. My new bible, in hand with Vines to Wine.
    I note that you mentioned briefly the concept of micro-ox, and the possilbity of doing it with OX tanks.
    I had thought I could engineer something similar to what they are doing in the wineries, utilizing an aquarium pump and aerations stone. Then, of course, I discovered someone beat me to it. 🙂
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y2HFE0Cp51k
    I had thought I would use a two hole bung in my 7 gal fermonsters etc. Have to find one that will fit, or will have to make one.
    Here is my issue/problem- No ability to purchase the heavy control equipment.
    I have done a lot of reading and it appears one wants to insert 10-25 ml/l/month over perhaps a 5-10 day period. I have been trying to come up with a way to adjust the output of the pump and measure the volume of air. Any ideas?
    Thanks
    Seth

    Reply
    1. Daniel Post author

      Hi Seth,

      Thank you for your feedback and the video link.

      The aquarium-pump method is fine for wine to be drunk fairly quickly. The issue is that it still adds too much oxygen far too quickly to really emulate micro-ox and build a wine meant for aging. You really need a micro-ox controller to do this properly, but as I said, you can still use an aquarium pump to perform some type of “macro-ox”. You can buy a stone with much smaller pores than the one in the video.

      Also — and this is VERY IMPORTANT — you will benefit from micro-ox ONLY if performed in conjunction with oak adjuncts; otherwise, you easily run the risk of oxidizing the wine prematurely.

      BTW, I go by Daniel (not Dan).

      Cheers,
      Daniel

      Reply
  32. mike

    Hi Daniel,
    Is it best to add oak chips to Chardonnay must during fermentation or after fermentation is complete? If so how many grams per gallon do you add and how long do you keep it in the wine?
    Thanks Mike

    Reply
    1. Daniel Pambianchi

      Hi Mike,
      It’s up to you. The results are different and you’ll have to see what you prefer. Follow the product’s instructions as each is different. Taste and taste often. When you like what you taste, take out the oak chips.
      Daniel

      Reply
  33. Kathi Jo

    Good morning Daniel
    So, I received 5 lugs of Frontenac from a dear friend. I like to blend this wine with my Marquette. I don’t grow enough myself so I supplement from friends: ).
    I picked out a few lady bugs at crush but I guess I missed several….have been picking them out at punch down. It has been 6 days and the must smells nasty. I have heard that even one lady bug will ruin the wine. Is it a total loss or is there something I can do ? If I scoop the skins and seeds off and opt for a paler wine, would that help.
    Thank you for your vast knowledge and advice

    Kathi jo

    Reply
    1. Daniel Post author

      Ah the dreaded Harmony axyridis, a.k.a multi-colored Asian lady bug (MALB).

      As part of their defense mechanism, known as reflex bleeding, MALBs secrete methoxypyrazines, chief among these is IPMP (isopropyl methoxypyrazine), a foul-smelling, yellow-orange fluid. Although there are no health concerns, IPMP imparts objectionable peanut and asparagus smells, detectable in the high ng/L (parts per trillion)—the equivalent of a drop in an Olympic-sized swimming pool—to low μg/L (parts per billion) range. The secretion from a single crushed beetle mixed with one liter of wine can impart a small but detectable negative impact on aromas.

      There is currently no known cure, at least not effective, to eliminate methoxypyrazines from wines but the smell can be masked to some extent depending on concentration by using an oak treatment, for example, by macerating oak chips or cubes in the affected wine.

      Good luck.

      Daniel

      Reply
      1. Kathi Jo

        Dang, That is what I was afraid of. Bad news. That was my gut feeling . Nasty little buggers. Not sure I will carry on with this batch, as the time involved in nurturing it is costly. The good news is, this is motivating me to bring non-cold hardy grapes into my wine making practice. I have only used Minnesota varieties that we grow here. I think I will try to buy some frozen low acid grapes….. Next year might try some import (CA) fresh grapes like Tannat that would give me low acid and high tannins.
        Thank you again for your fabulous council

        Kathi Jo

        Reply
  34. david

    Hello Daniel,
    A quick question regarding barrels.
    I am looking to buy a 15-gallon barrel and I have two options:
    – a brand new Hungarian oak barrel
    – a reconditioned French oak barrel
    The price is roughly the same for each barrel.

    I can’t help it but be a little pulled towards the French barrel even though it is reconditioned… but I think my pull is more emotional than anything else haha.

    I plan on cycling the following wine on this order:
    1- Petite Sirah
    2- Cabernet Sauvignon
    3- Sangiovese

    What are your thoughts on the barrel decision?

    Thanks for your input and any suggestions you have.

    Reply
    1. Daniel Pambianchi

      David,

      I prefer the French one here only because Hungarian oak imparts a “sweeter” taste than I care for. Also, I noticed that wood on Hungarian barrels often splits, esp. around the bung area.

      As for recoopered barrels, always make sure it’s done by a reputable cooper and ask how many times it was recoopered– ideally only once.

      Daniel

      Reply
  35. Sabrina Weston

    Hi, I’ve been searching the internet and can find no information on if my must floats will that ruin my wine. I just started a pumpkin spice wine from scratch, the recipe called for 16lbs of pumpkin flesh (that’s a lot). Anyway, the bag floats! I just added the yeast last night but it’s not doing anything yet and I’m wondering if the must which is basically floating in the middle on top is going to mess the fermentation up. Also, when I checked it this morning it looks like one of the kids or husband stirred it, will this mess it up too? thanks

    Reply
    1. Daniel Post author

      Hi Sabrina,

      I have never made pumpkin wine, but I’ll try and provide some guidance based on what I know.

      Whether the fruit will float or not depends on the relative densities of the fruit solids and the juice; it may float. But that won’t ruin your wine. And in fact, it is important that you keep stirring the juice and solids at least 2-3 times a day not only to hasten extraction of substances from the fruit (that will make your wine better) and to redistribute temperature during fermentation, but also so that the fruit doesn’t spoil. Fruit exposed to the elements (oxygen, microbes) can spoil, but if you stir it, it mush reduces that risk. So kudos to the kid.

      Good luck and let us know how the wine turns out.

      Daniel

      Reply
  36. mike m

    Hi Daniel,
    Whats your comments about natural cork and sthenic cork for storage of red and white wines for more than 2 years? Also what do you think about screw top bottles? Went to a wine tasting of Calif fine wines and many were screw top except for some reds and one had cork taint. Thanks Mike

    Reply
    1. Daniel Post author

      Hi Mike,

      I like natural corks and technical corks (eg. microagglomerate), but only the best quality. Synthetics of yesteryear and those cheap ones still available to home winemakers are NOT good. Something like a Nomacorc Select Series 900 polymer cork is excellent. Yes, I like screwcaps. I had started bottling some wine under screwcaps when I had my winery. The problem at home is that we are not equipped to apply screwcaps to bottles. I know some folks reuse bottles and screwcaps but this cannot be a viable strategy for even 12 months of aging.

      Cork taint? Argh! Yes, it still happens but much, much less frequently. The funny thing is I’ve never had one single bottle corked/bottled at home at developed cork taint.

      Daniel

      Reply
      1. mike m

        Daniel, how long can one cold soak Cab. Sauv. grapes with enzymes and SO2 @50ppm and at 55F and stirring 3 times a day? Thanks Mike

        Reply
        1. Daniel Post author

          55F is not sufficiently cold for cold soak. You need to get it down to the mid-40s or lower. Then cold soak for a week to 2 weeks. I wouldn’t go for more than several days at 55F as a spontaneous fermentation can kick in.

          Reply
          1. mike m

            Daniel ,
            I may have a spontaneous fermentation since the cap has risen to the top of the carboy and have lots of bubbles ? Temperature is now at 46 and going down. Should I add more SO2 to kill off the wild yeast? Thanks for your help, Mike

          2. Daniel Post author

            Ah-ha! There you go, a spontaneous fermentation. I say add another 25 mg/L SO2, raise the temperature and inoculate with cultured yeast as soon as possible. You want the cultured yeast to take over fermentation.

  37. Pete Krueger

    Hello Daniel – Do country wines, such as blackberry, benefit from cold stabilization same as grape wines? Thanks

    Reply
  38. Daniel Post author

    Cold stabilization in wine made from grapes is required due to the instability caused by tartaric acid, the dominant acid in grapes, and so, no, fruits not having tartaric acid as the main acid do not require to be cold stabilized. Grapes are one of the few fruits to have tartaric acid as the main acid. A lot of fruits have citric acid as the main acid but you have to look at each one individually; same thing for vegetables. Yes, some fruits do contain tiny amounts of tartaric acid, but they are inconsequential from a cold stabilization perspective.

    Reply
  39. Kathi Jo

    Hi Daniel
    I have a question about Saignee or “bleeding”. Just learned about it and of course pulled out your book to see your thoughts on the technique. I am guessing it is not used much in home wine making.
    One source says you drain the free run juice before maceration and another says do it after maceration …. Which is it? In seasons where we have had a lot of rain close to harvest time, I have looked for ways to concentrate my reds. This sounds hopeful. I would like to try it…if needed…..next year.

    Reply
    1. Daniel Post author

      Hi Kathi Jo,

      The saignée or “bleeding” technique is actually used in home winemaking more commonly than you would think.

      The decision when to drain free-run juice depends on your objectives, both with the wine you are trying to produce and the free-run juice. And of course it also depends on the variety at hand and the quality of the fruit.

      If your objective is to maximize anthocyanin (color) concentration, then you would run off a small amount of juice, in the order of 5-10%, maybe a little more in some cases, immediately upon crushing (before any maceration). So now you have the same amount of grape mass releasing anthocyanins in a smaller volume of juice. The free-run juice is vinified as a white wine. The free-run juice may be white though likely a little pinkish depending on the variety and processing. And so, so as not to end up with a slightly pink wine, you may want to macerate a little longer, from a few hours to a day for a rosé wine to a couple of days for a light red. These durations obviously depend on grape variety.

      Waiting until after maceration (which I assume you mean before fermentation kicks in) would have already caused a lot of extraction of anthocyanins, and so that would not be a good strategy if you want to make a wine with maximum color.

      Another strategy if you are working with small volumes is to freeze your crushed harvest. The freezing and thawing of crushed grapes causes a further breakdown of grape cell walls and therefore a greater release of anthocyanins.

      I hope this helps.

      Good luck.
      Daniel

      Reply
      1. Kathi Jo

        Hi Daniel
        Does the “bleeding” of the must change the brix of the juice left behind on the skins?
        Also, I decided to order to Petit Verdot from Brehm . It will come frozen in 5 gallon pails. This is a first for me. Have you ever used Brehm?
        I don’t know what the malic acid levels are in this must. What is the risk if I just go ahead and add some MLB as a coinnoculation. ? My intention is to have a low acid/high tannin wine to blend with my Marquette
        Thank you wise one

        Kathi Jo

        Reply
        1. Daniel Post author

          Hi Kathi Jo,

          If you run off juice immediately upon crushing, yes, you can expect the Brix of the remaining juice to be greater than if you would not have run off juice. That’s because there is still sugar “trapped” in the grape skins and which will become dissolved into the must within the next 24 hours or so. If you are to bleed, say, after 24 hours of maceration, like when making a rosé, you would not see a change in Brix.

          I had once made a Chardonnay from Brehm juice — outstanding. It’s hard for me to source his product here, unfortunately.

          If you co-inoculate with MLB, you can expect an MLF and for the malic acid to be converted into lactic acid. It’s hard for us home winemakers to quantify the relative amount of malic acid. Wineries usually call upon the services of a lab for this type of analysis. There are enzymatic kits if you are comfortable working with those. You could also perform a paper chromatography before the start of MLF to get some visual cue of the relative amount of malic based on spot density/brightness, but that’s only a crude assessment.

          Good luck.
          Daniel

          Reply
  40. david

    Hello Daniel,
    I just put a coat of mildewcide on a fresh new barrel. I was surprised that it did change the look of the barrel. it added a darker stain to the wood. not really a big deal, but online it is stated that mildewcide dries clear… whatvis your experience with it?
    thanks!

    Reply
    1. Daniel Post author

      Hi David,

      It dries clear, sure, as in “not opaque,” but it definitely changes the look of the barrel. Wood absorbs liquids (and Mildewcide). You really don’t need Mildewcide unless you expect to store your barrels in a very damp area or a high-risk area, in which case you should be looking for an alternative area.

      Daniel

      Reply
  41. mike m

    Hi Daniel,
    My chard. wine made from grapes is finished fermenting and after racking I added some ML bacteria from a supply left over from last year. It is in a area at 72F. The dates on the Viniflora CH35 state DoM: 06.2014 BBD: 062017. I kept it in a freezer since opening the package last year. How will I know soon enough if the bacteria is any good? I do have a fresh supply of ML bacteria that I could use if necessary. Thanks Mike

    Reply
    1. Daniel Post author

      Hi Mike,

      You really should NOT be using ML bacteria from an opened packet, even if kept in the freezer. The small amount of oxygen and humidity that entered the packet at opening is enough to inhibit the bacteria or make them perform sluggishly.

      Did you add some nutrients a day or so ahead of inoculation? If not, that’s double trouble. Otherwise, you can see activity as quickly as within 24 hours. In some cases, it can take days or more. Wait a few days and if you see no activity, add ML nutrients (if you hadn’t) and then re-inoculate using a fresh, unopened packet.

      Good luck.

      Daniel

      Reply
  42. David

    Hello Daniel,
    In your experience, about how much wine will I need reserved for topping off purposes on a new 15-gallon barrel?
    I am putting some young petite sirah in and I am looking to keep it in for around 3 months (less than 1 week/gallon).

    I was going to start with a topping-off schedule of once every two weeks, and see if I could slowly increase the time in between. I want to avoid exposing the barrel to oxygen more often than necessary.

    I currently have little to know idea just how much wine I may potentially loose through my topping off schedule.

    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Daniel Post author

      Hello David,

      The relative amount of wine you will lose to what some call “the angel’s share” depends on the relative humidity (RH) in your cellar. I say “relative amount of wine” because the absolute amount depends on the size of the barrel. But we’re dealing with a 15-gallon barrel here. And the drier the cellar, the more wine you can expect to lose. So your actual loss may vary from I have experienced with the same-size barrels in my cellar, which is at constant 55F and RH in the range 55-75%.

      I top up every 4 weeks and I need about 1/2 a bottle or a little more than that, so about 375-400 mL. The first top-up may be higher than that as the wood absorbs more wine. I don’t like to open the bung more than once a month to avoid having too much oxygen get in. Of course you’ll need to be on top of your SO2 levels, which you should measure and adjust every 3 months. You may want to increase the first sulfite addition by 100% after you rack the wine into the barrel to allow for binding and, more important here, to “neutralize” dissolved oxygen. For example, if you are shooting for a FSO2 level of 35 mg/L, go with 70 mg/L. I know it sounds like a lot but you will need to add less down the road and end up with less TSO2. Remember, that 1 mg of O2/L will chew up 4 mg of SO2/L. So if you just racked the wine into the barrel and you have, for example, 3 mg/L of O2 (that’s a very realistic number), then you already lose 12 mg/L of SO2 just to oxygen and you’re left with 23 mg/L FSO2 if you added only 35 mg/L.

      Hope this helps.

      Daniel

      Reply
      1. David

        Thanks so much daniel for your response.

        In terms of the first SO2 adjustment, is there a max SO2 level that I would want to avoid exceeding?

        For example, a 3.8pH wine that requires 50ppm… If I double on the first SO2 addition, i am looking at 100ppm… is there a max level where one would prefer “less protection” so as to avoid SO2 levels that can be percieved?
        (Please note that I do not necessary want to change the acid level in an attempt to lessen the SO2 requirement)

        Thanks

        Reply
        1. Daniel Post author

          What is important is keeping an eye on TSO2; you should not exceed 300 mg/L. If you can measure FSO2, than it’s not much harder to measure TSO2.

          The best way to manage SO2 is by adding greater amounts of sulfite infrequently rather then smaller but more frequent additions. In the former method, you will end up with a lower TSO2 when you come to bottle and a technically better wine. Sure, once you add 100 mg/L (ppm), in your example, you will smell the SO2. So this is not a strategy for a wine you want to bottle in a couple of months.

          Also, the adjustment factor (eg. 100%) should consider the wine. The younger the wine and the more tanninc, use a higher % adjustment. For medium-bodied wine you’ll want maybe 33-50% adjustment, and maybe none for light reds. Whites (except a full-bodied, oak aged Chardonnay) should also be at 0% adjustment.

          Good luck.

          Daniel

          Reply
  43. david

    Hello Daniel,
    Have you ever used a home-grade pump for pump overs and/or delestage?
    If I where to empty a tank of fermenting wine (with skins/cap remaining in the tank), and then filter out the seeds and skins that came out from the bottom… would a liverani mini C pump be capable of transferring the “dirty” must that I collect back over the top?

    I am looking for a pump with reason that could work… I know a diaphragm pump is out of the question, but I can’t seem to get any specific information on using an impeller pump for this pump over purpose during fermentation when the wine is not super clear.

    Reply
    1. Daniel Post author

      Hi David,

      Yes, a Liverani Mini C pump can easily be used to pumpover wine PROVIDED YOU DO WHAT YOU SAY YOU WILL in preparing the wine. These pumps are not meant for transferring grape solids; the ports and tubing are too small anyways. If the pump comes with brass fittings, as I know it does, you have to replace those — they should NOT be used for working with wine.

      I have a similar pump with 2-inch tubing. I have a screen inside the tank behind the pumpover valve that holds back all grape solids.

      A diaphragm pump won’t do the job. It can get easily damaged.

      Good luck.
      Daniel

      Reply
      1. mike m

        Hi Daniel,
        My Cab. Sauv. is almost at 0 Brix and the cap is falling. Since I will do ML fermentation should I wait until a negative 1.5 brix before I press and rack off the gross less and then add the ML bacteria?
        Thanks Mike

        Reply
        1. Daniel Post author

          Hi Mike,

          That’s up to you and where the wine is at based on your desired style. But yes, you can certainly press now, wait 24 hours, rack the gross lees, add ML nutrients, wait 24 hours, and inoculate with the ML bacteria.

          Daniel

          Reply
          1. Mike m

            Hi Daniel,
            I pressed my red wine and wondering what temp. to store the wine for 24 hrs until I rack off the lees and add the ML nutrients. Thanks Mike

          2. mike m

            Hi Daniel, I racked the gross lees off my red wined but did not have enough Malolatic nutrients for the entire volume of wine; I added the small amount of nutrients yesterday and will have more on Tuesday. Should I add the ML bacteria now and add more nutrients on Tuesday when my back order arrives ?
            Thanks Mike

          3. Daniel Post author

            Hi Mike,

            The bacteria won’t be happy waiting for nutrients sitting around in the wine until Tuesday. Wait until you have had a chance to add the nutrients to all the batches before inoculating with the ML bacteria.

            Daniel

  44. Ron Ferraro

    I am making a fruit wine, but this question is more general as it relates to pH and TA. I am making a blueberry wine, and before I pitched my yeast I wanted to check both the pH and the acids…I’m seeing really strange numbers. The pH is low (like 2.75 low), which is not unusual for blueberries. However, when I tested the acid, both using a titrator and doing it manually with an acid test kit, the acid is also low (around 4g/L or 0.4%) I’m far from a chemist, but is that even possible? I realize that acids and pH aren’t necessarily a 1-to-1 relationship, but I also know that low pH generally means high acid, and vice versa. I’ve never seen this before in all my years of winemaking. The only other thing I can think of is my pH meter is hosed, though the electrode is not that old, and I did re-calibrate it prior to use.

    Anything else you can think of of that may be causing such strange numbers? I’m worried about my yeast dying on on me with a pH that low to start, but I fear if I raise tthe pH (and thus lower the acids even more), the wine is going to be awful.

    Thoughts?

    Reply
    1. Daniel Post author

      Ron,

      I have seen wines with both a low TA and low pH as well as high TA and high pH, and so, it happens.

      4 g/L is not unusual though I’m questioning the pH, but as I said, it can happen. This may be the result of a mineral deficiency, namely, potassium.

      But my money would be on your test equipment and calibration procedure. I see that all too often, much more often than unbalanced juice.

      You have to calibrate your electrode meticulously with fresh buffer solutions, and you have to use bracketing buffers. That means if you expect to use your pH meter to measure wine pH, which is in the 3.0 to 4.0 range, then you would calibrate with pH 3.01 and 7.01 buffers, i.e. you wouldn’t use 7.01 and 10.01. The buffers have to be fresh or at least before their expiration date. Then, when measuring, you have to give the electrode time to stabilize; it’s not dip and out. At times I have to leave my electrode in for as much as 1 or even 2 minutes to get a proper and stable reading.

      As for your TA measurement … how fresh is your NaOH solution? If it is not fresh, you would get a higher reading than the actual TA. But there is also the possibility that your NaOH is stronger than indicated, as I once found out about the one I had bought; it measured 0.12N instead of 0.1N. That would make your TA measure lower. I now make my own NaOH solution and I standardize with HCl prior to every use.

      Then there is the question of lab equipment and procedure. If you are using syringes, how accurate are they? How are you detecting the endpoint: by color or at a pH of 8.2? If using a pH meter to determine the titration endpoint of 8.2, if your electrode is not properly calibrated, then your TA titration will be off.

      I would resolve all of the above questions before you do anything with the juice. If those are indeed the numbers, then you can either go ahead and ferment as is, and I think the yeast will handle it (I’ve never tried it below 2.8) or you can try and blend in another batch of juice.

      Good luck.

      Daniel

      Reply

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